For most of us growing up in the west the most special day is probably Christmas or our birthday. We get lavished with presents, good food and we get to spend the day with our loved ones. But for a significant part of the population the most special day of the year is something else. It is called Saga Dawa and it is the anniversary of the Buddha’s birth, death and enlightenment. But why is this day so special? Why do millions of Buddhists around the world look forward to this day every year?
Remembering the Buddha
On this day Buddhists all around the world take time to remember Shakyamuni Buddha and what he did for the world. Over 2500 years ago a man sat under a tree and attained enlightenment and then, instead of remaining quiet, he taught other people how to do the same. He taught us the causes of suffering and how to overcome those causes. He taught compassion, love and patience. And perhaps most importantly for me, he taught us how to rely on ourselves for happiness instead of an external creator. One of his final teachings before his passing was this:
“You are the community now. Be a lamp for yourselves. Be your own refuge. Seek for no other. All things must pass. Strive on diligently. Don’t give up.” – Buddha
The Buddha’s teachings have brought peace and happiness to the lives of millions of people throughout history. Today is a day when we remember that kindness and perhaps make the aspiration to follow his example and help others as much as we can.
A hundred million times the merit
Buddhists believe that on this day, a special lunar event, the merit associated with positive deeds is multiplied by 100 million. This means that whatever good things you do you will be more powerful than any other day. For this reason the monks, nuns and lay community put a lot of effort into meditation and charity on this day, helping as many elderly people, sick people and animals as they can. It is commonplace to see Buddhists spending their money buying animals that are about to be slaughtered and setting them free.
Whether or not you believe in the “100 million times the merit” angle it doesn’t really matter. Today could be a good occasion to make aspirations for the future, to remember what is important in your life and perhaps to start afresh. If you have any spiritual goals then today is the perfect opportunity to begin something new – visiting a temple for the first time, starting a daily meditation practice or giving up a bad habit.
A sincere wish for you all
The Daily Mind now has around 5000 subscribers who tune in to read my garbage. I sincerely and from the very bottom of my heart hope that this blog has only been of help to you. I hope nothing I have said has caused any harm. I genuinely want the best for each and every one of you and I think about you all the time. All of you dealing with panic attacks, I hope they stop. All of you with depression, I hope you find some joy. Anyone dealing with a death or a hard time, I hope something good comes into your life. Lastly, I hope that today marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life and you only experience happiness, good health and well being from now on.